Why we won’t see Rockets’ James Harden in game of H-O-R-S-E

Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

With the NBA orchestrating a nationally televised H-O-R-S-E competition, don’t expect to see Houston Rockets guard James Harden participating in it.

The basketball world has been yearning for NBA action, as it feels like it’s been months since the NBA went on a hiatus. For the Houston Rockets, it feels like even longer than that, as their last game was on March 10th, which was before the league’s hiatus.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has done his part to try and provide some sort of basketball-related entertainment, as the league recently decided to have an NBA 2K tournament on national television. Silver has upped the ante on another form of basketball-related entertainment.

The NBA and ESPN are working on televising a H-O-R-S-E competition involving several high-profile players, sources say. Players would shoot in isolation – presumably in home gyms – and match shots against competitors. Details are still being finalized.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 4, 2020

The league has decided to have a H-O-R-S-E tournament on ESPN as well, which isn’t unprecedented, unlike the 2K idea. If you recall, the league toyed with the idea of H-O-R-S-E being a part of the All-Star game festivities, before recently scrapping it in 2011 for the second time.

Although the league hasn’t officially announced who the selected players will be, it’s almost certain we won’t see James Harden in the contest, and the reasoning is simple: he’d be the overwhelming favorite. Regardless of who else would theoretically be in the field, Harden wouldn’t be challenged.

We’ve seen Harden make shots with the highest degree of difficulty, whether it be deep 3-pointers, or and-one triples. Harden has also mastered the stepback 3-pointer, which wasn’t something Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey even imagined. Morey stated as much:

I saw James doing the stepback and I was nervous, because that’s a 20 percent shot. I just had a fundamental belief that his momentum is away from the hoop and it’s too hard.

But then he starts making them at like 40 percent, and I’m like ‘we have the greatest player ever’. It’s insane. I don’t know how he does it.

Harden has been able to innovate his game each season, as he’s added new tricks to his bag year-after-year. In fact, Harden made headlines this past offseason when he revealed his one-legged jumpshot, which he’d certainly unveil during a game of H-O-R-S-E.

It’s safe to say if Harden whipped out this shot, his opponent wouldn’t be able to successfully emulate it, especially this year’s pool of potential candidates. Harden has shown the ability to make off-balance shots, and hit these shots with ease, in spite of his body being awkwardly distorted.

Harden regularly practices these types of shots, which is why he’s able to drain them in live-game action. This is much different than Stephen Curry or Damian Lillard hitting shots from halfcourt (which Harden could also do), as we’ve simply not seen a player in today’s league make shots with the degree of difficulty as Harden.

For this reason, we’re not going to see him in the H-O-R-S-E competition, which was validated based on the unofficial list of candidates provided by Andrew Marchand of the New York Post.

Names I've heard that could be involved are Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Donovan Mitchell & possibly Zion Williamson. None are confirmed yet. https://t.co/fFcdqD08vu

— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) April 4, 2020

Marchand later added Dwyane Wade to the pool of candidates, which is a really interesting name. Even if Harden isn’t in it, we could possibly be in line for a battle of current vs. former Houston Rockets guards, as Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook are on the early list of possible candidates.

Next. 3 reasons Kendrick Perkins is wrong about Harden's OKC exit

Although we don’t officially know who the contestants will be, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see Harden’s name added to the competition, as that would be unfair to the rest of the field.